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Marantz 10B, McIntosh MR-71, Magnum Dynalab
MD-108, and Day-Sequerra Reference FM Tuner: Clash of the Titans!
Recently I reviewed these classic wonder turners including the fabulous Marantz 10B along with the McIntosh MR-78. The listening panel dismissed the MR-78 with its old style, cool, amusical solid state sound. It just was not in the league of the other tuners that were so much more listenable. Yes, the MR-78 was very selective and sensitive, but at some point you have to listen to it and it was not fun. Even the Modafferi Mod did not help the MR-78 gain any charm or gracefulness.
Now, just arrived, a McIntosh MR-71 with Modafferi Mod and matched Telefunken 6BL8 output tubes. Also on board were ARC tube dampers on the 6BL8ís and 6BN8. It was freshly tweeked and aligned by Brooks Berdan LTD. in Monrovia, CA. and judged perfect. It was compared to the Marantz 10B, fully restored with new opto couplers and aligned, MD 108 with matched GE 5751 low noise tubes on board and run balanced, and the Day Sequerra FM Reference modded by Sequerra in 1999 and run balanced. A Marantz ST-17 FM Tuner, recently discontinued, was also compared.
All tuners were used with MD ST-2 Antennas. 50,000 watt classical and jazz stations were used for music sources. Speakers were the Avalon Eidolons wired with Kubala-Sosna Emotion Interconnects and Speaker Cables plus Emotion AC cables where possible.
Final Subjective Ranking as follows:
The Modaferri Mod from Audio Classics makes a huge difference with the MR-71. It includes circuit changes from the Audio Classics website as follows:
The Mod was a brilliant improvement on the MR-71. I owned a restored MR-71 for 3 years without the Mod and was underwhelmed by the thick, sluggish musical quality and only fair sensitivity of this vintage tuner. Itís got it all with the Modafferi Mod and nearly catches up to the Marantz 10B in many ways. The 10B just has that gorgeous analog sound and low noise that you will love and need with todayís high definition systems. What a gem!
The Marantz ST-17 was disappointing when it first came out and time has not been kind to it. Its dry musical nature and only moderate sensitivity and quieting are just OK. I would not buy it used although it does sound more musical than a Sangeon HD Tuner I experimented with recently.
Iíll keep you posted in these pages as great classic tuners continue to become available. Until then, FM is free so enjoy it while you can!